The White Ribbon 1.0 stars

White Ribbon movie poster

In starchy, flat, monotonic black-and-white, Michael Haneke details the unsettling goings-on — unsettlement being Haneke’s staff of life — in a Protestant town in northern Germany in the year leading up to the First World War. If the reminiscing narrator, in old man’s voice, hadn’t suggested at the outset that the events “could perhaps clarify some things that happened in this country” — presumably things that happened in the lead-up to the Second World War — it is doubtful whether the viewer would find much significance in the goings-on or would be much disposed to search for some. They’re dispersed over a two-and-a-half-hour running time, such that there’s a disconnectedness about them and little tension or suspense in between. In the end, it’s difficult to escape the feeling that the whole infested village couldn’t just as well be plunked down in Sweden or Holland. And what would be the significance of that? Christian Friedel, Leonie Benesch, Ulrich Tukur, Burghart Klaussner, Rainer Bock. 2009.

Duncan Shepherd

  • Rated R | 2 hours, 24 minutes

This movie is not currently in theaters.

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